Conversing with a Person Who Is Homeless

Homeless pic


An active member of the Catholic church, Daniel Pezzola attended the Catholic University of America and belongs to the St. Patrick’s Church council. From 2015 through 2016, Daniel Pezzola served as a leader of homeless outreach activities.

When interacting with a person or family who is homeless, your first goal should be to help them understand that you acknowledge their worth as people. This may seem like a bare-minimum expectation, but the sad truth is that people on the street often do not feel valued. People walk by them, perhaps handing them a bit of money, but rarely make eye contact.

You can help to counteract this pattern by looking each homeless person in the eye and letting your compassion shine through. A simple smile can be enough to show that you see and respect the person, but it is even better if you can start a brief conversation.

Some people fear that asking “How are you doing?” will garner an aggressive response, but this is rarely the case. You may even get lucky and have the chance to hear someone’s story. If you ever feel unsafe, however, you have the right to excuse yourself.

You may choose to give a little bit of money at the end of a conversation, but you need not feel obligated. Many people feel more comfortable offering to buy the person a meal, while others keep bags of simple necessities to hand out to people on the streets. These bags can contain things like toothpaste and socks, which make life slightly less uncomfortable and can communicate genuine caring.

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